I will mention that handicrafts are different than crafts. Handicrafts require the use of a specific skill, like knitting, decoupage or wood working, for instance. In other words, a certain level of understanding and ability need to be attained before a handicraft can be completed well.
That doesn’t mean your child needs to be proficient at a handicraft before completing a project! Learning how to do a skill and practicing it is part of the process. Projects can take place at any point in learning a handicraft.
Here’s where I talk in circles just a bit…
In project-based learning, the project can be LEARNING the handicraft. For instance, in a study about pioneers, the project might be, “Using a how-to book from the library, make one quilt square in the style of the pioneers.”
Or, the project can be a handicraft that is SECONDARY to the learning. For example, “Research various types of quilts pioneers would make. Be able to explain three styles and any interesting information about them. Using the skills you already have as a quilter, design and create an authentic pioneer patterned square.”
Handicrafts are not only great real-life, skill-producing project ideas – but I’ve found my children often find new hobbies (or money making skills) in the process.
In this category of handicraft posts, I’ve documented several of our projects over the years.
Welcome to day 8 of The Heart of the Matter’s 10 Days of Homeschooling blog hop. You can find the previous posts in my Charlotte Mason series here.
One of the biggest benefits to homeschooling CM style is that much of your afternoons are free! During this time your kids can be kids and play to their heart’s content – Charlotte Mason suggests outdoor play as much as possible. Or you can take nature walks, read living literature together, practice musical instruments, complete artist study, and more. One of the coolest “afternoon activities” we do is handicrafting.
Handicrafts are things you produce using your hands. The list below doesn’t cover nearly everything, but some handicrafts include:
Along the same vein are life skills. These are things your children really should know before leaving home, but might not be covered in academic lessons. A short list of examples includes:
caring for animals
care for a lawn
Both handicrafts and life skills are things every child should have the opportunity to learn, but sadly many children don’t. They’re often so busy “doing school” they never have the opportunity to really cultivate the skills that seem less necessary. I have to tell you that I’ve watched my children find some of the Lord’s purposes for their lives as I’ve allowed them opportunities and time to dive into handicrafts and life skills!
In my home, I’ve been very proactive to offer my children opportunities to experience as many handicrafts and life skills as possible. When 4-H offers a sewing class, we take it. When a friend arranges a trip to the local florist, we go. When co-op has a woodworking competition, I’ve encouraged my children to join in. For someone like me who isn’t naturally gifted in most handicrafts, these opportunities have opened the eyes of my children to something they would not have seen/learned otherwise.
When one of these handicrafts “sticks”, the enthusiasm of my children takes over and they push themselves to learn more or find other classes or people to help them.
Where to go for help with learning handicrafts and life skills? The answers will depend on what’s available in your area, but some of my suggestions include:
In my county, 4-H has offered many, many wonderful classes like sewing, cooking, basket making, art, crafts, horticulture, beginning electricity, service projects, livestock care, gun safety, and more!
County Extension Offices
4-H is associated with the extension office, but we have taken several classes offered through their adult education programs like Landscaping 101, Garden Q&A’s, and (hopefully) soon a Jr. Master Gardener course. Although we haven’t taken the time yet, we would be very welcome at knitting, quilting and canning classes, too.
Get together with a few friends and take turns scheduling informative field trips in your area. Fun choices might include the florist, a bakery, an art studio, a business that handmakes any product from candles to soap to clothing, a scrapbooking shop, a veterinarian’s office, a farm, a contractor’s jobsite or an interior decorator’s shop.
Pay for Classes
Whatever your child is interested in, there’s a class or teacher somewhere!
Find Family Members or Neighbors Who Love To Teach a Skill
My daughter has learned to knit and crochet from her grandmothers and a sweet 90 year old neighbor. The neighbor was a huge asset to us, but my daughter’s visits brightened her day once a week as well.
When my daughter was a preteen, we started a small group (about 5 families) for girls who were all the same age. We met monthly and the moms took turns planning classes to teach “girlie skills”. These were precious times together for the moms and daughters. The girls learned to decorate cakes, arrange flowers, sew potholders, make nice scrapbook pages and so much more. We used the Keepers of the Faith book as a guide for ideas, but didn’t follow it as a program. You can see more from our Keepers classes here.
Get Dad Involved
Dads generally have knowledge about various skills that are unique and priceless. Encourage him to invite the kids along as he goes about his “manly” business.
There’s no way to give you a comprehensive list of resources for handicrafts and life skill since it depends on the interests of your children. However, I will share a few that have become treasured, well-worn helps in our family.
As for life skills, my children have worked alongside me at the house (and my husband on the farm) from the time they could walk. Household chores, gardening, canning, working cattle, fixing broken things, etc. are just normal and won’t surprise my children when they start their own homes.
You can see some of my handicraft and life skill posts here. I would love to hear how handicrafts and life skills have enhanced your homeschool!
We’re almost to the end of the series. I hope you’ll hang in there with me for two more days! Tomorrow we’ll discuss Habit Training.
Be sure to visit these brilliant women in this 10 days adventure between February 7th-18th!
Have you ever heard of Warm Fuzzies for Cancer Patients? I hadn’t either, but our 4-H extension agent did some research and found this wonderful program for us to take part. Groups (or individuals) make fleece lap blankets and donate them to cancer centers. So, that’s what our 4-H group did this week. Our blankets were headed to Markey Cancer Center in Lexington, KY. That’s our pile of rolled blankets and all the loving and capable hands that made them.
Making the blankets is a cinch. You take one yard of fleece and cut 4″ squares out of the corners. Then, cut slits up 4″ about an inch apart on all sides. Loosely tie two “slits” together in knots until you go all the way around the perimeter. There you have it – beautiful lap robes that kids can easily do on their own.
Here’s a site I found that gives directions for making your own fleece blankets. Have fun!
Oh, I so want to be able to do wonderful handicrafts! Crafts so beautiful they are worthy to be placed in a cozy little shop on Main Street and sell out the day they hit the shelves. I would love to quilt, sew clothes for my children, knit colorful sweaters, make bars and bars of homemade soap and lotions, concoct all my own cleaning potions, and decorate a wreath Martha Stewart would want to hang on her door.
Even more so, I would love to pass down all those wonderful handicraft abilities to my children. But, alas, no cozy little shop has approached me. They probably have little need for the straight-stiched curtains that hang a little crooked in my bedroom. They probably have no need for a pile of scrap fabrics that I’ve never had time to turn into a pillow for my couch. They probably don’t need my wreaths whose decorations may or may not stay on long enough for the season to pass.
But, I try. I pass on to my children what I know and hope the Lord will bless them enough to be able to take those skills farther than me, if He so desires. I think this plan is working pretty well. My oldest (10)can sew a button, use a sewing machine, knit, crochet, follow a pattern, cook, bake, clean, do laundry, create small floral arrangement, and decorate her room nicely, among other things.
I’ve taught her some of these things, but the Lord has also sent some very lovely people into her life to teach her the things I don’t know. For instance, she really wanted to learn to knit. I haven’t a clue! But, our 91 year old neighbor loves to knit and has been working with my daughter occasionally! I also pick up how-to books at yard sales – how to sew, how to plant a flower garden, how to do small woodworking projects. Both my older children devour the how-to books. They’ve learned a lot (through trial and error sometimes) on their own.
Finally, my daughter is part of a Keepers At Home group and my son is taking a Contenders of the Faith class this year at co-op. I can’t speak highly enough of these programs to teach both boys and girls handicraft and life skills! The Contenders teacher is doing a wonderful job teaching “boy skills” like outdoor survival, fire safety and using tools correctly. Our Keepers group uses the various talents of each of the moms involved to teach the girls homekeeping and handicraft skills. We even schedule outside speakers and field trips sometimes.
Take it from me, your children can learn all the handicrafts they like and need even if you are “craftless”. It just takes a little bit of effort to find others who love sharing their gifts and talents with your children. And, never count yourself out as being “craftless”. When you really think about it, there are all sorts of wonderful skills, habits and crafts you are passing on to your children – even if they aren’t worthy of sitting on the shelf at the cozy little shop on Main Street.
Here are some other posts about our Keepers At Home group.
We celebrated my 36th birthday this week. Mahayla had such big plans for a homemade cake with homemade chocolate icing. The cake was wonderful, but to her dismay, we didn’t have enough powdered sugar in the pantry to make icing. So, we simply sprinkled the little bit of powdered sugar over the fresh cake and it was scrumptious anyway! Caleb lit a few candles, then my wish was made.
Everyone gave me sweet cards and Mahayla even crocheted two cute little pot holders. She said they’re for the salt and pepper shakers – and they do fit perfectly! How she kept that project a secret, I’ll never know.
I want to send a special thank you out to my family, church and co-op friends who remembered my birthday. I’m not even sure how some of them knew it was my birthday?? ) Thirty-six isn’t so bad when you are loved by so many. I love you all, too!
You never know what I might be writing about - homeschool plans, field trips, projects, family life, and so much more. I hope you'll consider using the subscribe button at the top of my blog to keep up with all the happenings at Westward Academy. And, by the way, I love comments!